Vocalise Blog #5: 2/6/2017

Intermediate Chorus Rehearsal # 6 Thursday February 9th
February 11, 2017
Prep 3 Blog #2 Week of February 13th
February 18, 2017

Vocalise Blog #5: 2/6/2017

Dear Vocalise,


Hope your weekend if off to a great start. Things are busy here in preparation for tomorrow’s Gala. Best wishes to Aria and Bravi singers on being the entertainment and the inspiration at this this very important and celebratory event.


“Strength often lies in numbers but excellence can only come from personal dedication” (anon.)


Practice every note, every line, every word of every piece as if it was your one and only solo.”


“Always engage in deep practice, giving and sustaining your undivided attention

to the music in front of you. “



Action Items for your practice and ONE BIG FAT Reminder:



  • For all non-Aria singers of Vocalise: Your recording of We Join with the Earth (with accompaniment in the background) is due on Sunday, 2.11, by 12 pm. The recordings can be found on Elena’s email and embedded within this blog below:
  • Have the following songs learned completely


Turn the World Around

Earth Songs

Famine Song

Hymn to the Waters

You are the New Day – this will be sung in trios and sextets next Monday

Finish learning I dreamed of Rain (see below) Aria and Bravi are excused from this one



    1. Listen (several times) to performance examples (follow links below)


  • Practice the latest yoga flow every day (Forward salute, forward arch, swan dive, forward bend, slow roll up; repeat.)
  • Meditate at least 5-10 min every day



I Dreamed of Rain by Jan Garrett, arranged by Larry Nickel

About the piece:

      • Jan Garrett grew up in Colorado with a nostalgic childhood full of rain and nature. In the early 2000s, shortly after the 9/11 attacks, Colorado experienced a dry period and many wildfires. This marked an uncertain time in Jan’s life. She says she began dreaming of rain in those days, and the song eventually came through after there were rumored weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the US announced it would become involved in a pre-emptive war. The song brought a positive counter to the global climate of the time, and Jan has played it at every performance since then. Read more about the story of the song here, and listen to their full recording here.
      • Focus and count! Don’t let those syncopations get away from you. They’re all over the place in this song.

Famine Song by Vida, arranged for mixed choir by Matthew Culloton

Most of the work was done on text and the quality of the sound. Here are reminders:

      • ChilDD, WilDD, ReconcileDD –” – final Ds must have pitch (Duh) and not sound like Ts
      • M. 3: lift after “spirit”
      • Must work very hard to pronounce every sound of every single syllable. For example, “Soil” should have every part clearly heard (“S-o-i-l”). Same goes for “Child” Ch-ah-ih-Ll-Duh
      • Enunciate those cut-offs on beat 4 when you have the words “child” or “soil” like at measures 6 and 8.
      • Every time you sing the word “reconciled,” that final vowel should be a tall, “ah” (“rih-cawn-sAAAh-ih-ld”) OPEN MOUTH tall.
      • M. 14: That tenuto on “soul” should be weighty!
      • In the sections like the one starting at m. 26, enunciate all of the sounds clearly at “child” and “wild,” being sure to place that pitched “d” on the cutoff on beat 4.


Keep working on these notes from the last few weeks (Feel free to answer the extra questions!):

Turn the World Around by Harry Belafonte, arranged by Larry Farrow


      • The melody on “We come from the fire, etc.” — Sing with rhythmic buoyancy, like a fat staccato!. Lift between the barlines in these sections and disconnect the quarter notes a bit.
      • Remember — this is sung in dialect. For example, the word “come” should have a rounder “O” and close to the “M” sooner (“cohm”)
      • Starting at m. 41, those “Ohs” and “ahs” should have large crescendos ending with a firm accent at the note change on beat 4 – be sure you know where that note change lands!
      • Mm. 45-52: The arranger here marks this section as “Suspenseful.” Remember that nearly all of these notes are staccato (except “clearly!”) – Sing this as if in an exciting, complete darkness.
      • Those “hahs!” on measures 59 and 87 should be robust! You have to commit to this one…

Earthsongs by David L. Brunner  (Here is a recording of the first movement)



    • II. In Safety and Bliss
      • Memorize the text and recite it as it was a mantra. Think carefully about the text and its origin. It pairs wonderfully with the idea of non-denominational eco-spirituality that appears in the following movement.
      • This isn’t operatic or schmaltzy – each note is as important as the next. Don’t over-emphasize the leaps in this piece – the lower note is just as important as the upper one
      • Remember where you cut off your T’s early by an eighth note:
          • Sopranos: measures 88, 89, 94, 95, and 96
          • Altos: measures 88 and 95. Carry through on measure 96
      • Bonus Points: What mode is this movement in?
    • III. We Join With the Earth
      • Please, please work hard to secure correct pitches in this piece. It is a beautiful piece of music, but don’t let some of its simplicity fool you into becoming complacent. This MUST be learned by next rehearsal



Hymn to the Waters from Choral Hymns from the Rig Veda by Gustav Holst


      • On Page 6, system 3, Carry through. Do not breathe at the dotted barline
      • On Page 7, systems 2 and 3: the second syllables of “courses” and “broken” should be 3x softer than the first.
      • On Page 9, system 2: This should be quite robust: “Whose dread command no man may shun” are words with a lot of conviction!
      • Spell out the vertical harmonies and notice how Holst mainly uses root position chords to make beautiful textures.


  • Bonus Points: Throughout most of the song when you sing in parts, Holst is very strict about having the outer voices move in opposite directions. (For example: Page 7, system 2) What is this kind of motion called? What is it called when parts move while one stays on the same note (Page 7, system 3)?
  • EXTRA Bonus Points: At the bottom of page 9, the key signature changes to A flat major – Why then have we landed on a G# major triad? What is it called when the pitches are written this way?



Always our best,

Elena, Jace, and Justin


Comments are closed.